Jake Hughes was disappointed with his pace in the opening FIA European Formula 3 Championship weekend of the season at Silverstone as the British racer struggled in two of the three races.
The Hitech Grand Prix driver twice missed out on the points in races one and three, and even though he finished on the podium with third place in race two, he was still disappointed with the weekend, feeling that he never overcame the balance issues that blighted him throughout the event.
“We’ve struggled all weekend, since the start to be honest,” said Hughes to The Checkered Flag. “We managed to find a balance for Q2 to qualify P5 and P6 but still not where we want to be.
“Race 1 we made a change on the car that didn’t really work, and I didn’t get the tyres in when it was damp, so struggled in race one because of the first few laps.
“Race 2, obviously made a good start and managed to finish on the podium, which was really good for morale for me and the team, but then race 3 was a complete right-off to be honest. We were on full-old tyres and immediately had a bad start, but even with a good start I think I would have finished outside the points, the pace was so bad.”
Despite wanting to end the weekend on a high, the Sunday outcome proved disappointing for the British racer, but the season is long – thirty races in total across ten weekends – and Hughes has confidence that the team can recover from the disappointments of Silverstone and become a strong entity this year.
“I don’t want to say, as it’s a big negative, and I don’t want to end on anything but a positive, but unfortunately it was not what we wanted from this weekend, so we’re going to have to get to work,” said Hughes.
“I’m confident in the team, I know what I can do, especially last year. Logic would dictate that them and me learning the car, the championship will only get better. Hopefully this weekend was just a one-off, and we can get back to normal.”
Despite Silverstone being Hitech’s home track, it was the first time they’ve raced there, as the championship did not visit the circuit in 2016, but Hughes has tested with the team there and as such was not using that as an excuse for the performance.
“My first test with Hitech was here at Silverstone and it went really well, I was happy with the car from the word go, even immediately coming from Carlin’s car,” said Hughes. “But this weekend, with the new aero package there is a lot smaller window [of performance], I think quite a few teams will tell you that.
“We definitely we haven’t really hit the ground running from round one. I don’t think the team will mind me saying that.”
The championship now moves onto the Autodromo Nazionale Monza in Italy for round two at the end of April, and Hughes feels that due to the unique nature of the track, if you they quick there it may not necessarily mean that will translate into being quick on other tracks later in the year.
“We get a test day before the next round at Monza on the Wednesday,” said Hughes. “Unfortunately Monza isn’t so much like any other circuit, so if you’re quick there you can’t necessarily think that you’ve solved it.
“We’ve got to try and be positive, we got a podium out of this weekend, which considering the pace we did a good job in that respect. Nikita [Mazepin] got some points in this race, and Ralf [Aron] got a point. Hopefully once the car gets better we’ll start to show what we can actually do.”